With this solo piano self portrait as a reference point, Jang reveals himself to be a sentimental improvisor with ears open to anything from gospel and folk to Chinese opera. It's Jang's own mixture, unlike anybody else's. The integrative jazz pianist tools through eleven tunes on Self Portrait
, including seven original compositions with Chinese-American folk flair. Along the way he pauses to pay homage to the different "woman warriors" in his life who have inspired him. That list includes everyone from Mahalia Jackson and Joni Mitchell to the all-woman Shaoxing Opera Company, among the musical warriorsand his mother, wife, and daughter, among the family warriors.
The super-sensitive tone of this impressionistic record explores mild and atmospheric sensuality at the expense of energy and open expressionism, two of my favorite qualities in improvisation. At times Self Portrait veers dangerously close to the great dreaded quagmire of New Age. But if you don't have my particular sensitivity to that genre, this record has a lot to offer. It's a nice complement to the heap of good things that have been put out on Jang's label, AIR, over the last decade or so.
Personnel: Jon Jang: piano.